Top 101 LSU football players of all time: No. 80-71

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LSU football has been around for a long time. Since 1893, to be exact.

In that span, plenty of great football players have come through the program. Before we begin the journey of the 2022 season, I thought I’d take a stab at ranking the 101 best players in LSU history.

We’ve already released the player rankings from No. 101-91 and No. 90-81

I have tried to avoid recency bias as much as possible. It can be hard to get enough information about older players, but I did my best to get them about in the ballpark of where they should be.

Anytime there’s a list this big, people will disagree. There’s so little that separates the 50th player from the 70th, and so on.

I tried to balance consistency over multiple seasons with some players that had one great year. Both have been rewarded here. With that in mind, let’s continue the countdown.

No. 80 - Harvey Williams

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Running back [autotag]Harvey Williams[/autotag] was at LSU from 1986-90. When he was done at LSU, he ranked third on the all-time rushing leaders list. He now sits sixth.

Williams ran for 2,860 yards in his time with the Tigers. He added 879 more yards through the air. He’s fifth all-time in program history in yards from scrimmage.

He ranked top five in the SEC in yards from scrimmage in three separate seasons. Williams scored 31 total touchdowns and was a first-round pick in 1991.

LSU’s pass offense was prolific during Williams’ career with [autotag]Tommy Hodson[/autotag] under center. If Williams had more opportunities, he could have been even higher on this list.

No. 79 - Earl Legget

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Legget played at LSU during an interesting time.

Coach [autotag]Paul Dietzel[/autotag] was just beginning his tenure, and LSU was still a couple of years away from becoming a real national contender.

The lack of success from the team didn’t stop Legget. He was an All-SEC player en route to being selected with the 13th overall pick in 1957.

Legget might be a bit higher on this list than his talent and accolades would suggest, but he was the best player on those teams that led into one of the greatest eras in LSU sports.

He helped lay the foundation for a rebuild, so that’s worth something. Being selected 13th overall says a lot, too.

No. 78 - Todd McClure

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McClure is a Baton Rouge native who eventually had a lengthy NFL career with the Atlanta Falcons. Before that, he was one of LSU’s top players in the late 90s.

LSU’s rushing attack at this time was one of the best in college football with guys like [autotag]Kevin Faulk[/autotag], [autotag]Rondell Mealey[/autotag], and [autotag]Cecil Collins[/autotag].

It wouldn’t have been possible without blockers like McClure up front. He was First Team All-SEC twice and named a Second Team All-American by the American Football Coaches Association.

No. 77 - Mark Roman

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From the moment Roman arrived on campus, he made an impact. In 1996, the league named him the SEC Freshman Defensive Player of The Year.

Roman became a four-year starter where he was named All-SEC in 1998. He was able to play safety and cornerback. He totaled 10 interceptions in his career and returned three of them for touchdowns.

He was a finalist for the Jim Thorpe Award in 1999 before being selected in the second round by the Bengals in 2000. He spent almost a decade in the NFL.

No. 76 - Ali Highsmith

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Highsmith was one of LSU’s best defenders in 2007 on the way to a national title. That year, he was named a First Team All-American by CBS Sports and Second Team by the Associated Press. He was a semifinalist for the Butkus Award in 2006 and 2007.

In his career at LSU, he made 26 tackles for a loss and added 11 sacks. He forced seven fumbles in his career, which is top 10 in SEC history. He could disrupt the passing game as well, with 13 PBUs.

Highsmith went undrafted in 2008, but the impact Highsmith made with some really good LSU teams made him an easy selection.

No. 75 - Eddie Gatto

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We’re going way back for this one. Gatto played at LSU from 1935-38.

In that time, he was an All-American twice. He was a part of LSU’s 1937 team that lost in the Sugar Bowl, but that group was one of the first nationally relevant teams in LSU’s history.

Gatto was just the fourth LSU player to ever be drafted, but the sacrifice he made after his career in Baton Rouge is more noteworthy than anything he did on the field.

Gatto was killed in action during the Battle of Normandy, which started on D-Day and began the Allied invasion of German-controlled territory in France.

No. 74 - John Sage

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In 1970, LSU went undefeated in conference play for the first time in over 30 years. Defensive lineman [autotag]John Sage[/autotag] played a big part in that.

Sage wasn’t the greatest player on this elite defense as we will see later, but he was still one of the best players in the conference.

LSU’s defense allowed just 9.4 points per game in 1970 and finished the year ranked seventh in the AP poll.

No. 73 - Michael Brooks

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Brooks was another great LSU linebacker from the 80s, joining [autotag]Rydell Melancon[/autotag] and [autotag]Ron Sancho[/autotag], who are already on this lists. Brooks won’t be the last, either.

He was a First Team All-American in 1985 and was Second Team All-SEC in 1984. LSU’s defense was the best in the conference in 1985 as LSU went 9-2-1.

In 1987, he was selected in the third round by the Broncos. He received All-Pro honors and made a Pro Bowl in his time in the league.

No. 72 - JaMarcus Russell

Photo by Dale Zanine USA TODAY Sports Copyright (c) 2006 Dale Zanine

Russell isn’t remembered by many for what he did at LSU due to the way his NFL career panned out, but I’m sure Tigers fans haven’t forgotten his time with the team.

Russell’s 2006 season is one of the greatest quarterback seasons in LSU history. He threw for 3,129 yards and 28 touchdowns. Before Russell, only [autotag]Rohan Davey[/autotag] had a season that prolific.

Russell led the SEC in yards per attempt and passer efficiency rating in 2006. LSU went 11-2 that year and scored 33.7 points per game, leading the SEC. Passing and rushing, Russell scored 56 total touchdowns in his time at LSU and was the top overall pick in 2007.

No. 71 - Dwayne Bowe

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Bowe ranks seventh on LSU’s all-time receiving list, but his 26 touchdowns rank first in program history.

His stats gradually improved every year he was at LSU, but he was top-10 in the SEC in yards on three occasions. In 2005, his 17.3 yards per catch ranked third in the conference.

He led the SEC with 12 touchdowns in 2006 and was Russell’s top receiver in that prolific season I mentioned on the previous slide.

Bowe was selected in the first round by the Kansas City Chiefs. He played 125 games over nine years in the NFL and was All-Pro in 2010 when he led the league in touchdowns.

Previous Rankings

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Story originally appeared on LSU Tigers Wire